A solicitors letter appears. This could be interesting.
I wrote several months ago how in the last general election Soubry had received a donation from David Wilson, big cheese at Bell Pottinger, who are a pretty scummy unit, being secretly filmed claiming how they span reputations of oppressive regimes and could get access to Cameron’s inner circle. Nasty folks. They also specialise in dark-art campaigning, something the Tories will find essential in the run up to 2015. As their support base gets ever older (latest figures available suggest an average of 67) their ability to get the message out on the street is lacking. Thus, new tactics are needed. False-flag blogs, seeding google with keywords and running attacks on local criticism.
So it’s no surprise when the letter comes through from solicitors Browne Jacobson. Soubry has just lost a major battle with the Field Farm development in Stapleford, as the Government housing inspector ruled that Broxtowe’s allocation of the land was perfectly in line with policy. A huge blow to Soubry, who had hoped to at the very least earn a reprieve until the election had passed. No such luck.
Other tactics are therefore needed. Time to shut up anyone who might criticise the way she acted, or any links she has to it. I read the letter.
It’s a breathless bluster of bullying balls, asking how dare I attack Anna’s partner, former director at builder’s Persimmon, what with having an MBE etc. But it demands action on three points:
1. You wrongly describe him as an ‘exec’implying that he is engaged full time with a building company. the only position he has held is that of non-exec director.
2. You say that he is an ‘exec at shonky Builders Persimmon’
The Oxford Dictionaries define “shonky” as “dishonest, unreliable or illegal, especially in a decious way”
The clear meaning of the words is that Persimmon is dishonest, unreliable or illegal especially in a devious way and that Mr Davidson as an alleged employee of that company is also ‘dishonest, unreliable or illegal especially in a devious way’.
3. You wrongly suggest that he may have a conflict of interest over the way “councils could have their ability to control development removed if enough local controversy was evoked thus leaving the same areas at the mercy of developers who could march in unimpeded as Persimmon had already done”.
The reference to “conflict of interests” has the clear meaning that Mr Davison (sic) has engaged in some improper conduct exploiting his connection with Ms Soubry, MP which is exploited by him and Persimmon to make an unlawful or improper gain.
Let’s deal with these in order.
1. Calling Davidson an ‘exec’. I’ll concede this one as an honest oversight, he was exactly a non-executive director with Persimmon. I’ll stick a fiver in a charity box and retract that one, and sincerely apologise for getting that mixed up, and change it in the relevant piece.
2.Persimmon are shonky. I’m standing by that one. They are shonky builders, as in the urban dictionary definition :
Of poor or low quality
Or the Collins definition
or, indeed the one they refer to, in the OED,
Interestingly, the OED gives the following example for usage
we need to rid the building industry of these shonkies quickly
I stand by calling Persimmon ‘shonky’, in all the above definitions, fully and will not retract that. Let’s check their track record. BBC Watchdog ran a report on them after receiving numerous complaints. You can read the full story here.
In 2005 their shonky building were factors in the death of a four year old boy, after inadequate fittings were applied to a mantlepiece lintel. Full story here.
You can find loads more online, indeed, their Wikipedia page has got a whole section devoted to ‘Criticisms’. My favourite has to be the building of a garage that was too narrow to get a car in. Shonky, shonky, shonky.
3. I at no point explicitly state a conflict of interest, and if the article in question is read in context this is obvious. I did note that Persimmon had benefitted from the policy of removing local authorities power to allocate land if they fail to find appropriate sites. Their interpretation is subjective and based on an exceedingly, errr, shonky, premise. To quote another nasty politician ‘You may think that, I couldn’t possibly comment’.
The letter then goes on to make a series of threats. They demand
1. A full and complete apology which will be published on your website for the same period as the original posting in terms to be approved by our client.
2. An undertaking that you will not at any time in the future make any further false, defamatory or abusive remarks against our client.
3. A contribution to a charity of our client’s choosing by way of damages.
4. Payment our (sic) client’s costs incurred remedying this defamation. Presently, our costs are £1,500 plus VAT.
Again, lets work through these.
1. I will apologise for calling Davison an exec director rather than a non-exec director. I’ll change that, an oversight similar to the one where you get his name wrong in the letter. I stand by all other points in the context it was written.
2. I will write, as always, within the law and will continue to write about Anna Soubry and Neil Davidson if a story sufficiently in the public interest arises. Anything else would be a dereliction of my duty to bring information about our elected representatives and their connections. As Anna Soubry styles herself as a champion of ‘Uncommonly free speech’, as well as a former NUJ member, I am sure she will fully endorse this stance.
3. I will make a £5 donation to Oxfam tomorrow for the ‘non-exec’ / ‘exec’ mix up. I hope that this is an adequate amount to a very good cause.
4. I refuse to pay your client’s costs, and I would suggest you offer him a refund for the inability to spell his name, a discourtesy at the least, sheer unprofessionalism at worst. As I am not someone who can afford an indoor heated swimming pool and a huge house as your client can, and last time I checked I had £1.99 in my current account and about £3 in my change jar, I am unable to afford such exorbitant fees you charge and your client can pay.
I would also like to enquire how you found my address? Did Anna Soubry provide this?
I am also curious about other elements of the article you are critical of. In the same humorous (again, subjective) vein I accused Soubry of explicitly lying. Is that ok to state?
I’ll be in touch with Private Eye tomorrow to have a chat about this, and the Nottingham Post are keen to run something on it. Things are getting interesting, keep reading for more as it happens. And if this blog gets forced down, you’ll know why.